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Kerala Govt’s approach to Free WiFi violates Net Neutrality

While the Kerala government's move to set up 2000 public WiFi hotspots, and offer 300 MB of free Internet Access across the state is welcome, its approach of making government services and public content available outside of this data cap will be in violation of Net Neutrality, and the TRAI's differential pricing rules. In the announcement (available here on the CM's website, and copypasted below) says: Access various e-Governance, m-governance services, public content available in the State Data Centres without any limit from the Hotspot locations. Similar to Free Basics Net Neutrality requires that those providing Internet access act as exchanges of data, and do not discriminate between users of the Internet: whether these users are corporate, individual or government. Remember that users are both consumers and creators of content. Thus, there should be no incentive provided by the entity provisioning access to the Internet in favour of a particular type or creator of content, even if these are government services. Remember that what Facebook was doing with Free Basics was giving access to a few select services for free, and like the Government of India is doing, it was selecting which services are to be made free. Violation of TRAI's order TRAI’s Differential Pricing ruling (pdf), which states that “No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”. This is clearly an instance of the tariff being different (in this case free) for "e-Governance, m-governance services, public content available in the State Data…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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